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Pit Viper Exciters: Thru-Hiker Tested, Hurricane Approved

Pit Viper sunglasses have legions of followers due to their style. But I chose them for durability, comfort, and radical swagger.

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Cycling, rock climbing, labwork, construction, running, and thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail: My Pit Viper Exciters have done it all. After ditching everyday glasses for contacts, I discovered the Exciters more than 6 years ago. I needed sunglasses to keep me safe from UV (and potentially flying objects).

After several years of testing different shades, I’m convinced the Pit Viper Exciters are the glasses you need in your toolkit for durability, protection, and radical swagger!

In short: I am hard on my gear. I have destroyed or lost nearly every pair of cheap sunglasses I’ve owned. Enter Pit Viper. Pit Viper Exciters have fantastic durability and epic value. They offer good eye protection with removable side shields, plus they have rubberized touchpoints and adjustable nose and temple contact points. Selling for under $100, they offer good value lenses.

Pit Viper The Exciters Sunglasses


  • Materials ANSI Z87+ rated 2.2mm polycarbonate frames, rubber temple grips, side shields
  • Features 100% UVA + UVB protection, polarized (smoke lens), microfiber cloth included
  • Lenses Category 1-Category 3 options depending on lens
  • Light transmission 15% VLT (Cat 3 for red/purple lens)
  • Color options 13 colors/patterns
  • Prescription option Yes
  • Weight 44g
  • Adjustable nose bridge and ear pieces
  • Price $90


  • Fun, stylish
  • Affordable
  • Great protection and coverage
  • High durability
  • Insane value, great warranty
  • Rx-compatible
  • Includes strap


  • Frames have a larger fit
  • Can fog up in cold environments (could use more venting)
  • Could use better protective coating on lenses

Pit Viper Exciters Sunglasses Review

The author wears Pit Viper Exciters on the trail; (photo/Guinevere Drabik)

I needed glasses that were durable and multifunctional (I was working in a laboratory at the time, which required safety eyewear). I also needed glasses to protect my eyes from dirt and debris, as I was just getting into gravel cycling. Shield-style sunglasses looked like a great bet. That’s when a friend introduced me to the Pit Viper Exciters — and I was hooked enough to borrow (steal) my pal’s pair.

Fast-forward 6 years: These are the only sunglasses I wear.

These glasses have done it all. As I noted above, I’ve used them cycling, rock climbing, in labwork, construction, running, and thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. They have seen their fair share of extreme terrain and have dealt with constantly changing conditions, from tropical storms, heat waves, and a stray hurricane.

These glasses held up! Albeit a little worse for wear, my Exciters survived over three-quarters of a thru-hike from Virginia to Maine — and I’ve used them every day since.

(Photo/Guinevere Drabik)

I’m probably in the same camp as much of Pit Viper’s fanbase — these glasses have become an extension of me and my personality. I own two pairs and wear them everywhere: work, hiking, travel, and mowing the lawn.

I just had LASIK surgery in February, and I refused to wear any other glasses out of the operating room. These were the ones I wanted and trusted. They are that good.

The Frames: Fit and Design

Side shields and frames on the Pit Viper Exciters
The side shields and frames on the Exciters; (photo/Guinevere Drabik)

The Exciters are reminiscent of old-school glacier glasses, offering coverage not only in the front but also to the sides with the included Brook Shields. Pit Viper boasts that these are “the most dangerous model of Pit Viper to drive in,” due to the lack of peripherals with the shield on.

The full coverage of these glasses has come in handy in windy, dusty terrain as well as in keeping bugs from getting into my peepers. I love the security these glasses offer from the sun, rocks, dirt, bugs, and anything else.

Aside from the great design, Pit Viper also nailed the fitting. The Exciters provide an “average fit” on medium size heads. The nose bridge measures 20mm but is adjustable.

Compared to other sunglasses, they also have a unique feature: the adjustable temples (the stem pieces that sit on your ears) to ensure the best fit. And if you are worried your head is too small for these frames, they also come with a tie-down strap to keep them in place.

A close-up at the side shields and adjustable temples on the frames; (photo/Guinevere Drabik)

A feature I love about the Exciters is the rubber pieces on the nose and temples. The placement of the rubber piece creates a snug fit that prevents slipping and sliding when running, hiking, climbing, or cycling. This is essential for me, as someone who sweats more than average. The rubber grip and no-slip design work well, and make the Exciters a rockstar for participating in all kinds of sports.

The one drawback to the full coverage is that these glasses tend to fog up when it is really cold. I had trouble with them fogging up on a below-freezing trail run. In hot, temperate, and moderate climates, these glasses are fine. But as soon as it is below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, they get a little steamy.

Pit Viper’s Kick-Ass Warranty

The author gives a thumbs up from the trail; (photo/Guinevere Drabik)

Are you tough on gear like me? Have you ever scratched, broken, lost, or utterly destroyed a favorite pair of shades? Pit Viper offers an epic lifetime warranty. All you have to do is file a claim, tell them how you broke the glasses, and they will send you new ones. Just slap the broken specs into a box and ship them back to Pit Viper.

It’s easy enough that I have navigated this process on four pairs of sunglasses. I want to be clear: this wasn’t any fault of the Exciters sunglasses. They are durable and can hold up to a whole lot, especially given how often and how much I’ve used them. I dropped, stepped on, squished, abraded, and had my glasses chewed on by multiple animals (by my cat and the occasional camp rodent). Yet, they championed on.

But I ended up using the lifetime warranty because the lenses got too scratched up from prolonged hard, everyday use. The frames and integrity of the glasses lasted great, but the lenses were scratched to hell. My biggest feedback is that Pit Viper should use a better protective lens coating. (Though, I don’t think these glasses are supposed to be cat-proof.)

Pit Viper The Exciters: Conclusion

My pair after years of testing, in all their neon, polarized glory; (photo/Guinevere Drabik)

These glasses are rockstars regarding coverage and protection, and for anyone who is tough on gear. Pit Viper totes these as a multiuse, all-purpose eyewear. I found that to be true. From construction projects to labwork, après partying, thru-hiking, and sports, these glasses protected my eyes against a whole lot.

The shades provide full coverage protection and are slightly larger than other sunglasses I’ve tried. The coverage, side shields, and larger lenses all contribute to their high durability. Considering they are 100% UVA and UVB protective, polarized (the Smoke lens), adjustable, and prescription-optional for just $90 is an insane value.

And, it’s why I’ve used the lifetime warranty through Pit Viper not once or twice but four times. Until I find sunglasses that can beat the Exciters, these are the only shades I’ll wear.

If you adventure a little too hard, know that Pit Viper has your back. And I think the Exciters are the best for the job.

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